Purpose of review: To examine the role of lung disease in rheumatoid arthritis from a clinical, epidemiologic, pathophysiologic, and therapeutic perspective.
Recent findings: Lung disease in rheumatoid arthritis is pleomorphic and has a marked adverse impact on the morbidity and premature mortality of patients with this disease. Recent advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of lung disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis reveal it to be characterized by more active cellular infiltrates of both T cells and B cells, as well as other immunologically active cells, including mast cells, than many of the other forms of interstitial lung disease. Satisfactory treatment is lacking; available biologic response modifiers have been reported to have both beneficial and adverse effects on the lung. Newer approaches targeting cellular immunologic dysfunction including T-cell-directed and B-cell-directed therapies hold the promise of reducing lung damage related to the underlying disease.
Summary: Lung disease in rheumatoid arthritis is a heterogeneous and oftentimes serious condition, with a profound impact on patient wellbeing and survival. Advances in the understanding of its etiology and targeted application of available, as well as development of new, more specific therapeutics will be of benefit to patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are suffering from lung disease.